NASA's panel explores the enigma of unidentified aerial phenomena

In an unprecedented move, NASA's expert panel held its first public meeting to discuss mysterious unidentified aerial phenomena, also known as UFOs.
Daniel Lehewych
Shelley Wright, professor of Physics at the University of California San Diego's Center for Astrophysics and Space Studies at the public meeting of NASA’s unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) independent study team
Shelley Wright, professor of Physics at the University of California San Diego's Center for Astrophysics and Space Studies

(flickr / NASA

It's official. A panel of 16 experts assembled by NASA is studying what the government refers to as "unidentified aerial phenomena" or UAPs, more commonly known as UFOs.

A first-of-its-kind initiative, the public meeting of this expert panel was inaugurated on Wednesday, aiming to share their insights into these unexplained occurrences since the team's formation in June last year.

Panel chair David Spergel said, "If I were to summarize in one line what I feel we've learned, it's we need high-quality data," according to Reuters. It appears that the thirst for reliable information prevails even in the quest for the unknown.

Watch the public meeting below:

The science of the unknown

The main event for Wednesday's four-hour meeting at the NASA headquarters in Washington was to carry out "final deliberations" before unveiling an official report. This report, expected by late July, will shed light on the panel's findings.

However, the journey has not been smooth sailing for the panel members, with reports of online harassment plaguing their essential work. This is particularly troubling, as NASA's science chief, Nicola Fox, pointed out in her opening remarks. According to Fox, such harassment leads to further stigmatization of the UAP field, hindering the scientific process and discouraging others from delving into this fascinating study area.

Interestingly, this effort by NASA stands distinct from a similar Pentagon-based investigation into UAPs, which includes reports by military aviators and U.S. defense and intelligence officials.

Despite these concerted efforts to understand the unidentified, both NASA and the Pentagon panel members grapple with similar obstacles. As Spergel pointed out, "The current data collection efforts about UAPs are unsystematic and fragmented across various agencies, often using instruments uncalibrated for scientific data collection."

A Turn of the Tide in Tackling the Unidentified

These transparent attempts by NASA and the Pentagon marked a significant shift from earlier government approaches to UFO sightings, which were often dismissed, debunked, or discredited.

But while forming this panel symbolizes a more open-minded stance towards these unidentified phenomena, NASA has quickly clarified that it isn't jumping to conclusions. The space agency has reiterated that there is no evidence to suggest an extraterrestrial origin for these UAPs.

Despite this, defense officials admit that the Pentagon's increased efforts to investigate such sightings have led to hundreds of new reports under examination. However, the majority of these remain unexplained.

In the end, while the possibility of intelligent alien life hasn't been entirely dismissed, no sighting thus far has produced tangible evidence of extraterrestrial origins. But as these concerted efforts continue, the world waits with bated breath for what the unknown might reveal.